FEROZ AHMAD SHAH & HAKIM MUDASIR MAQSOOD
Pesticides used in orchards can kill fish in water through a process called runoff. Runoff occurs when water containing pesticides, fertilizer, and other chemicals from the orchard flows into nearby bodies of water such as streams, rivers, and lakes.
When these chemicals enter the water, they can harm aquatic organisms like fish, amphibians, and insects. Specifically, pesticides can be toxic to fish by interfering with their nervous system, respiratory system, and ability to reproduce. Some pesticides can also reduce the amount of oxygen in the water, making it difficult for fish to breathe.
Moreover, pesticides can bioaccumulate in the food chain, meaning that they can build up in the bodies of fish and other aquatic organisms over time. This can result in higher concentrations of pesticides in larger fish, which can pose a health risk to animals that eat them, including humans.
Recently, there have been reports of Schizothorax sp (indigenous fish species) and rainbow trout fish kills in Pulwama and Shopian districts of Kashmir due to pesticide runoff from orchards. This is a concerning issue as it not only affects the livelihood of fish farmers but also poses a threat to the aquatic ecosystem.
To prevent such incidents from occurring, fish farmers and orchid owners need to take certain awareness and control measures. Here are some steps that they can take to minimize the risk of pesticide runoff:
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies
Farmers can adopt IPM strategies, which involve a combination of non-chemical and chemical solutions to control pests. For instance, using beneficial insects to control pests, crop rotation, and cultural practices such as pruning can minimize the use of pesticides.
Choosing low-toxicity pesticides can reduce the risk of fish kills. Farmers should select pesticides that are labeled for use in orchards and follow label instructions carefully.
Timing and dosage
The timing and dosage of pesticide application are crucial to minimizing the risk of pesticide runoff. Pesticides should be applied when there is no rain in the forecast and during the cooler parts of the day to minimize evaporation. Furthermore, applying the right amount of pesticide is important to prevent excess chemicals from entering water bodies.
Farmers can create buffer zones around water bodies such as streams, rivers, and lakes to minimize the amount of pesticide runoff that enters them. These buffer zones can be planted with vegetation that can absorb excess chemicals and prevent them from entering the water.
Fish farmers and orchid owners should monitor water quality regularly to ensure that there is no contamination. Any signs of contamination, such as unusual fish behavior, should be reported immediately to the local authorities.
In conclusion, pesticide runoff from orchards can have devastating effects on the aquatic ecosystem, including fish kills. It is essential that fish farmers and orchid owners take the necessary steps to minimize the risk of pesticide runoff by adopting IPM strategies, selecting low-toxicity pesticides, applying pesticides at the right time and dosage, creating buffer zones, and monitoring water quality. By doing so, we can ensure a sustainable future for both our agriculture and aquatic ecosystem.
Fish mortality has been reported in both natural water streams and fish farms in Districts Pulwama and Shopian. The cases were reported to the laboratory of AAHM SKUAST-Kashmir by the Assistant Director of Fisheries and local fish farmers.
(Authors are Fish Health Experts, Div. of Aquatic Animal Health Management FoFy, SKUAST-Kashmir. Feedback: email@example.com)